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"...you may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worthwhile to be tormented for two or three years of one's life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it."

from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

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Correspondence from the German Occupation

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Upon a strong recommendation and kind provision of the book, I started to embark on the reading of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. However I had a slow start. For some reason, I was deterred by its format consisting of letters or correspondence between the protagonist Juliet Ashton, and various other characters in and outside the Society. The format itself is a little distracting, and one does have to keep track of who is who.

After a dozen of the letters, which formed a preliminary character network, I began to grow fond of the book. My husband and I happened to watch Enemy at the door, a 1977 TV series on the German occupation of Guernsey, Channel Islands in World War II. Typical stories and social issues then are again faithfully reflected in the book, such as Jerrybags, Todt slave/prisoner workers, curfew, food scarcity, etc. To keep such local flavor intact is one of the beauties of the book.

The book has also explored the single-minded thirst of the Society members to pursue rich knowledge and literature during the bleak time period of German occupation. Through Juliet's researching in London, the authors have cleverly introduced both the origin and history of Guernsey, and the formation of simple but unique characteristics of Guernsey islanders.

A final point about the book is that Mary Ann Shaffer, one of the two authors, worked in many professions, and one of them is being a librarian. She has succeeded in demystifying the myth that librarians only read and cannot write.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction, history

Posted by Hui-Lan on Feb. 17, 2009 at 10:27 a.m.


February 17, 2009 at 10:36 a.m.:

I loved this book! I found it fascinating from the first page.

May 4, 2009 at 11:38 a.m.:

I also loved this book although it was very different than I thought it would be.

May 12, 2009 at 3:18 p.m.:

I, too, enjoyed the book and learning more about the Guernsey, Channel Islands in WW II.

July 8, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.:

Those who love the book might also enjoy the DVD, Island at War (SCPL carries the U.K. broadcast edition, Acorn Media). The fictitious St. Gregory stands in for the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

Summary: One of the little-known stories of WWII is the fate of the Channel Islands, the only part of the British Isles invaded and occupied by the Germans. Tells the story through the eyes of three island families and the German soldiers with whom their lives become interwined.

Well acted, well written, and quite engaging-- I recommend it.

January 4, 2010 at 10:10 p.m.:

I also loved the book, and my husband and I had seen the series Enemy at the Door, so it really connected well from our memories of the TV series. The characters come alive through the letters, which made the format work well for me.

November 13, 2010 at 9:38 p.m.:

Any one read The Book of Ebenezer LaPage? It also takes place on the islands before, during, and after WWII. The characters, scenes, and moments are wonderful and often moving, often humorous. A great read.

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